Coffee House The Spectator Podcasts

Does addiction exist? Peter Hitchens vs Damian Thompson in our new View from 22 podcast

7 March 2013

9:32 AM

7 March 2013

9:32 AM

Should we be doing more or less to help to tackle drug addiction? And does addiction even exist? Are addicts just selfish people? In this week’s View from 22 podcast, the Mail on Sunday’s Peter Hitchens and the Daily Telegraph’s Damian Thompson enter into a riveting and lively debate on this very matter (1:06). Prompted by Russell Brand’s article in this week’s Spectator magazine, the pair find some common ground but disagree wholly on the very nature of addiction. It gets heated, with Thompson calling Hitchens’ ‘sanctimony’ ‘suffocating’. Here’s a snippet:

Matthew Sinclair from the Taxpayers’ Alliance also joins to discuss Fraser Nelson’s cover feature on George Osborne’s 2013 empty budget (18:15). What bold new measures will the Chancellor introduce to kick start our economy in two weeks’ time? Nothing, just the usual whale spray of measures which won’t amount to anything significant, says Fraser. Which rules would Matthew and Fraser bend if they were Chancellor for a day to find some growth? Listen in to find out — plus the Spectator’s take on the death of Hugo Chavez and James Forsyth on Willie Whitelaw (28:15).


You can subscribe through iTunes to have it delivered to your iOS device every week, or listen now with the embedded player below:

The View from 22 — 7 March 2013. Length: 39:22

Download | iTunes | RSS
UPDATE: Peter Hitchens has blogged about his appearance on the View from 22 and his discussions with Damian.

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Show comments
  • lukeuser

    “Placebos work very well for some people, that doesn’t mean they actually work” Actually, it does, it means they actually work for some people…

  • lukeuser

    Purity of essence

  • James Moriarty

    Does Damian Thompson do nothing but plug his book these days?

  • iSmolik

    This was one of the worst debate on drug addiction EVER. I mean it wasn’t even debate. Mr Thompson, that was just awful argue!

  • David Lindsay

    I have been sent this link to a programme broadcast live from Liverpool last night on BBC Three – .

    In the course of it, Sam
    Bowman of the Adam Smith Institute is torn apart for advocating the
    logically inevitable extension of his “free” market principles to the
    legalisation of drugs.

    he is torn apart by Toxteth’s Labour Councillor, Stephanie Till, who
    mocks to utter scorn the suggestion that the drug dealers preying on the
    youths of her ward are ever “going to register for VAT”.

    Splendid stuff.

    Whigs can never be Tories. There has always been nothing more anti-conservative than capitalism. There always will be.

  • David Lindsay

    Damian Thompson ate my cupcake.

  • OhThisBloodyPC

    “If you help people in a big way, they take you for granted.

    But if you help them in a small way, they don’t forget you.”

    Not my words. For some reason, this quote by a famous entertainer and charity worker has stuck in my memory. Whatever happened to Jimmy Savile?

  • Smithersjones2013

    Does addiction exist. Yes it does. Are addicts selfish. No more or no less than others, I suspect. I don’t think that necessarily equates to their drug addiction. There is perhaps a correlation with a certain selfishness in wanting the ‘kick’ from whatever drug one takes but that is about the initial choice of taking that drugs not the addiction that follows.Now if one were to say that addicts are weak and have character flaws / shortfalls which mean they need a crutch to lean on, I’d be more inclined to agree.

    • MrRamsden

      Was hoping for Christopher Hitchens versus Hunter S Thompson.
      Annoying as Russell Brand often is, the twelve step solution does involve taking responsibility, rigorous self examination, helping others and much else which provides a better life for users.

    • ButcombeMan

      The selfishness of addicts is in the way they ignore the effect of their addiction and behaviour on others, victims, family, friends, employers, workmates, the public who end up paying.

  • Troika21

    Regarding Peter Hitchens on drug abuse, does he believe that the “will”, can be broken? Do we have a fixed amount, are some people always going to be addicts because of it?

    Its all very well and good saying that the problem is insufficient willpower, but how do you resolve that? Pills? The Mail is always advertising pills for something.

    • HookesLaw

      pills for cellulite judging from its obsession.

  • CharlietheChump

    Of course addiction exists – just look at socialist governments’ need to spend your money for you. No cure available for these desperate people.

    • Austin Barry

      And, whatever it says, the Government is still mainlining massive doses of immigration, oblivious to what an overdose may do to its already failing infrastructure.

      • HookesLaw

        Whatever YOU say – net migration falls by 34%. fact. I suppose you would just machine gun migrants as they queue up.

        Unlike the Spectator hacks who know nothing, Sir Andrew Green and Migrationwatch hail this has a good thing and they know a bit more than you i think

        • Austin Barry

          “I suppose you would just machine gun migrants as they queue up.”

          Er, no, we just leave the EU, then substantially proscribe Islamic immigration and then decide that third world immigration isn’t culturally helpful and limit it.

          • Steve Steveo

            wow 10 votes for this comment??

            “substantially proscribe Islamic immigration ”

            I always thought the good readers of The Spectator, were above the average UKIP voter… sad really.

  • Dicky14

    I used to work at the National Treatment Agency and what isn’t mentioned ever, curiously, is that drug treatment doesn’t even work. If you pop low level users in the same treatment centres as high level users it’s like the opening scene of the Usual Suspects. What kind of idiot places users with their various dealer contacts in a room together and expect any thing other than chaos? Sure, bespoke treatment works but it’s just cold turkey, that can be achieved without all the treatment centres, family liaison officers, community development workers, DIP, DAT, etc etc. Hey ho – keeps people employed, I guess.

    • Knives_and_Faux

      Good post highlighting the truth, too many do-gooders pandering to the whims of addicts when what they require is tough love approach.

      • Cumberland

        No, these do-gooders are pandering to their own whim, the one that demands, for them, a nice little earner.

    • ButcombeMan

      I do remember Paul Hayes head of the National Treatment Agency getting a thorough roughing up on the Today programme a few years ago when it was pointed out to him that no more than an accidental number were becoming free of addiction, (something like 2% as I recall) under the regime he was proudly in charge of.

      To call it a “Treatment Agency” was beyond a joke. Parking opiate addicts on methadone, sometimes for years is quite plainly not treatment.

      Maybe the pharmaceutical companies like it, no reason tax payers should.

      • Dicky14

        How’s this for fun but when I was there ( a few years ago now) they had loads of err…patients I suppose (although probably clients or some other drivelous nominative) identified with their primary substance issue being methodone! So, effectively, the ‘treatment’ was to get them hooked on something else – barmy. When I was working for the Drug Action Team my advice was always ‘just go to the boozer and get some weed’ and I still stand by it – harm minimization, that’s the key to it all.

  • Arthur O’Connor

    Cable is right – capital investment will renew the economy – it will give the workers money to spend,expand the infrastructure – airports,roads,high speed trains – all necessary to get manufactured exports to market. UK must lessen its dependance on Square Mile whose activity will lessen as Cameron threatens to come out of the EU. Finance needs certainty – threats to leave EU inject a damaging uncertainty to forward exchange contracts for example – contracts essential for the smooth running of export industry to get products on foreign markets especially when UK is not a member of the Eurozone. The uncertainty loads the forward exchange premiums thus reducing profits on exports. Cameron’s competition to be more Eurosceptic than UKIP is highly damaging to the country’s economy.

    • Fred

      Forward exchange rates are set by interest rate parity arguments.

      The Japanese tried capital investment. Did them a lot of good … not.

    • CharlietheChump

      Of course massive government spending, sorry investment, works just look at our marvellous state health system . . .

    • Bill Kenny

      ‘Cable is right’ heaven preserve us from this psycho-Keynesian nonsense. Why not let rip and double or trable the debt and create an economic utopia? C’mon really??

    • Archimedes

      It really is crazy the way this neo-Keynesian thought has taken root. It won’t renew the economy. The Japanese did this – they have been bumping along the bottom for 20 years, and let’s not forget that they started from a very low base of tax and spend, around about 30% – it’s now about 40% on spend, and they had a much better current account position than we do.

      Japan started with a surplus of 0.5%, they now run a deficit of 9% for meagre growth and regular contractions. We run a deficit of 9% already. Do you want us to double that to 18% over the next decade in pursuit of a solution that so clearly doesn’t work.

      Just how much of the economy do you want government to occupy? Do you want to get rid of the free-market entirely? Are you prepared to make room for an enormous contraction further down the line when you start unwinding that monstrous deficit that you created?

      The Japanese economy doesn’t have the capacity to withstand the unwinding of a 9% deficit without sinking back into stagflation. 20 years. With a multiplier of 1, to eliminate a deficit of 9%, because of the negative effect on revenues, you’d have to find growth in the private sector so significant that it could withstand downward pressure on GDP of 15% – that would just be to keep GDP at current levels in real terms. Expenditure would have to drop to levels significantly lower than they were before the recession, or taxes would have to increase enormously.

      It doesn’t work. It really doesn’t work. The evidence says that it doesn’t work. The experiments say that it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. It doesn’t work.

  • Arthur O’Connor

    Does A Neal still have a governing role at Spectator ? If so I wont renew .

  • Arthur O’Connor

    It is real – that I can assure you.